SPOKANE-- Spokane City leaders are searching for a new police chief to take over by the end of summer. The city of Spokane interviewed the three finalists for the position of police chief Wednesday.
Daniel J. Mahoney is the commanding officer of the Ingleside Police Station within the San Francisco Police Department. He oversees the daily police functions for the District of Ingleside, home to 123,000 residents.
George E. Markert is the Director of the Office of Public Integrity for the City of Rochester, N.Y., and previously the Executive Deputy Chief for the City of Rochester Police Department.
Frank G. Straub is Director of Public Safety for the City Of Indianapolis and former Commissioner of the City of White Plains, N.Y, and Department Of Public Safety.
The facilitator asked a total of 11 predetermined questions and then took some from the panel.
Several of the questions centered on departmental and public trust.
All three candidates said it’s key their very first month as chief to meet and get to know each officer individually and let the department know their vision.
Markert says gaining trust is predicated on having a healthy professional relationship. “From a healthy relationship, you have credibility, and when you have credibility, you gain trust and so really first and foremost is to go out and build that relationship with both internal and external stake holders.”
A follow up to that question was based on one a top priority for Spokane's Mayor David Condon. How would you go about gaining the trust of the Spokane community?
Mahoney says he currently attends every community meeting in his geographical district, gives an overview of the crimes and safety tips and would do something similar in Spokane. “And then I shut up and I listen to community and they tell me basically what they want from me, what they want from my officers, what their areas of concern are and how I can improve.”
Markert echoed that, saying the chief and other officers should be attending community meetings. “It shouldn't be a surprise that we're at a public meeting. It shouldn't be a surprise that we are at your community event. It should be a way of life and we should be seen as part of the community.”
During Frank Straub's interview, he said the most important thing is knowing the issues facing he community. “You have to go to all the role calls you have to meet the uniformed and civilian members of the police department. Certainly you have got to know the concerns of the community.”
Straub said if he becomes Spokane's next chief of police, he would map out a plan for change and implement it within his first year.
Straub's experience doesn't come without controversy. In 2010, an Indianapolis police officer struck and killed a motorcyclist while on duty.
The local CBS affiliate reports several city officials asked Straub to step down for his handling of the case. His resignation will take effect August 1st.
During Wednesday’s interview, he admitted to what he called his biggest mistake while trying to reform the police department in Indianapolis. “I didn’t spend enough time listening in Indianapolis, in all honesty. I don’t know that it wouldn’t have moved the reforms forward but I think I would have done it differently; had I spent more time listening to the department, and more time listening to the community.”
The finalists were determined through two initial screening rounds. The Mayor’s Advisory Board on Policing completed a review and ranking of all applications, and several City senior managers then completed phone interviews with seven top candidates.
Citizens were able to attend the interviews conducted by the PAC in the City Council Chambers.
Citizens were then encouraged to attend a meet and greet reception with the Chief candidates in the Chase Gallery in the lower level of City Hall from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
KREM 2’s Honora Swanson was at the event and said the minute the three men came into the room people started introducing themselves.
Swanson said everyone at the event was very interested and ready to ask questions.
Attendees said they were happy for the opportunity to see the candidates in person and get a sense of why they want to be the new chief.
Attendees asked the candidates questions about their backgrounds, what they can do to improve Spokane’s department, and how they would have handled the case of Otto Zehm.
Citizens can provide their feedback on the candidates at the interviews in City Hall or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.